The Power of Company Stores and Gifting Programs in Property Management

Selling Swag Partners' founder explores how companies leverage gifting programs to streamline operations, control budgets and enhance brand consistency.

In the competitive landscape of multifamily property management, companies are increasingly turning to innovative solutions to enhance their marketing strategies and streamline operations. One such approach is the use of company stores and gifting programs, which serve as a strategic tool for managing corporate-approved marketing and maintenance supplies. These online platforms centralize the purchasing of everyday products, ensuring budget control and brand consistency across diverse portfolios.

Josh Frey, Founder of Selling Swag Partners
Multifamily management companies are using online company stores to centralize the purchasing of these everyday products, said Frey. Image courtesy of Selling Swag Partners.

Multi-Housing News reached out to Selling Swag Partners’ Founder Josh Frey, an expert with more than 25 years of experience in servicing the multifamily industry, to gain insights into how these company stores function, the types of gifts property managers prefer, and the evolving trends that influence demand for these services. Frey also shares the challenges and solutions in running an online marketing supply store and discusses future industry shifts, particularly the impact of AI and online technology.

How do multifamily management companies use company stores and gifting in their marketing programs? Walk us through the process.

Frey: The ones with the best store usage and success are those that use it as a strategic, operational move, where corporate-approved marketing supplies and maintenance supplies can be ordered. Multifamily management companies are using online company stores to centralize the purchasing of these everyday products, including leasing and maintenance team uniforms, signage, print collateral, name tags and gifts—move-ins, renewals and resident retention. As many have portfolios of buildings, each with varying budgets and sometimes different brand names, company stores help these companies better control their budgets—and their brand guidelines—by offering a selection of corporate-approved products that the properties can then order for their sites. 

We help as an extension of their marketing and accounting depts, insuring products are brand compliant and fit within allotted budgets. Management companies know that whatever items are offered on their site have been approved by them and this limits the rogue purchasing of products by properties that may not be budget or brand compliant. It also helps them leverage their overall buying power, assisting the smaller properties with a greater selection of products and options they may not be able to otherwise procure on their own, or coming up with a signature move in gift or collection of products from which their properties can pick. 

With more than 25 years of experience servicing the multifamily industry, we have a solid understanding of the pain points corporate marketing and maintenance teams deal with in providing these types of products and supplies to their stakeholders and their properties. We like to think we are setting up a tool that will make life easier for our clients, free them up from having to deal with the flood of emails/inquiries from their properties, while keeping their finger on the pulse.

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What trends are you seeing in the multifamily industry that are influencing the demand for your products and services?

Frey: Made-to-order products vs the costs and risks associated with inventory. I have seen many management companies try to avoid paying for inventory as it complicates things from a bill back standpoint, and they run the risk of having to pay for stale products. Since the stores are really a service to the properties, the goal is for the properties to order and be billed directly for their orders placed. The trick is to offer made-to-order products with no inventory requirements, but that can still be produced and delivered in a timely manner to the properties. This is what my company specializes in doing, especially regarding maintenance team and leasing team uniforms and print collateral.

What kind of gifts property managers opt for the most?

Frey: This really varies between companies and even within their properties and the budgets allotted. There are a ton of cool, trending products that our industry offers, and we make sure to present products and ideas that tie in with the client’s budget, branding and overall purchasing requirements.

How often do they practice residential gifting?

Frey: It depends on their budgets. Some have programs that give a gift every time a new resident moves in or renews their lease. Others do resident events to build their community culture and as an appreciation and/or retention tool or themed seasonal events and even pet events.

What are the biggest challenges you face in running an online marketing supply store for multifamily properties?

Frey: What used to be a challenge is now a strength. As most of our multifamily clients run each property as its own business, there are specific billing requirements, as well as branding requirements, that must be handled on a per property basis. Throw in setting up products that are made-to-order—no inventory—we must really understand the client’s buying needs, match those up with suppliers—and supply chain—in our industry that don’t require order minimums, and then couple that with an order processing system that makes ordering easy for the property manager and billing easy for our team. 

Online stores, when utilized as an operational ordering tool by our multifamily clients, results in a lot of transactions and orders. Being able to track those order details, from start to finish, and make sure the order delivers and bills accurately, is not easy. Especially when you are talking about tens of thousands of orders being shipped/billed to thousands of properties. Attention to details on a consistent basis is critical for the store to be successful. 

To successfully streamline the purchasing of these made-to-order products through an online store takes bringing these pieces all together in a seamless manner and thus, is really an operational strategy as mentioned. We like to think of ourselves as the Amazon of the online company store business as we are handling a lot of little transactions that many others in our industry don’t want to deal with due to the heavy administrative costs, system requirements, staffing/training and potential high margin for error given the large volume order flow. All critical pieces for ensuring the products ordered get delivered, and billed, on time and accurately.

How do you foresee the industry evolving in the next few years, and what plans do you have to adapt to these changes?

Frey: I think AI will have a greater impact starting with customer support and order support, as well as marketing and market research. I think online technology in general is already having an impact, both with company stores and portals in general for reviewing past order details, etc. Replicating the Amazon buying experience for our multifamily clients, for business-to-business services like ours, is the goal.

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